Penn State is in the midst of one of its best years in recent memory, sitting with a record of 10-4, and a major factor in this team’s success has been junior midfielder Mackenzie Allessie.
Allessie transferred to Penn State from Ohio State this past year after two standout seasons with the Buckeyes.
She was a star player for Ohio State, putting up 37 points as a freshman and 35 points as a sophomore.
The junior midfielder certainly has the accolades to match her statistical dominance.
Allessie managed to earn first team All-Big Ten honors in her past two seasons and could potentially earn a spot for her third year in a row.
She was also named as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season.
When Allessie was weighing her options after entering the transfer portal, she knew she wanted to remain in the Big Ten because she preferred the conference’s style of play.
Unsure of exactly where she wanted to play, Allessie talked to several different teams to get a sense of which school would fit best.
Once she got to know the Penn State team more, she became fond of coach Char Morett-Curtiss.
The Ohio State transfer said Morett-Curtiss’ personality and coaching made Penn State a place where she would want to be every day.
Since Allessie switched to the blue and white, Penn State’s midfield play has seen great improvement.
The shot creation Allessie adds to Penn State allows the team to wear down its opponent by firing off a massive amount of shots.
Allessie leads the Nittany Lions in assists, with a total of nine, which is also tied for the most in all of the Big Ten.
Morett-Curtiss has been pleased with the addition of Allessie and what she brings to the squad.
“She’s blended extremely well with the team,” Morett-Curtiss said. “I just think she’s a team player. Her communication to the players on the field is very positive.”
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Penn State has gotten some important leadership and momentum boosts from Allessie’s strong presence in the midfield.
In their 4-1 win against Bucknell, Allessie was engaged and scored a momentum-shifting goal to start a big rally for the Nittany Lions.
“I honestly think Mackenzie’s first goal definitely fueled the fire for me,” sophomore forward Sophia Gladieux said.
Early on, Allessie said she has found Happy Valley to be a comfortable fit and loves being back in her home state of Pennsylvania.
“The team was great and so accepting instantly that it just felt almost like home right away,” Allessie said.
Allessie’s role with Penn State has looked quite different than her previous role with Ohio State.
She played more of a roaming type of role with the Buckeyes, but she is not forced to do so in her role at Penn State.
“We’re trying to keep her in a midfield position,” Morett-Curtiss said. “Whereas before she would be in an attacking position or defender position. So, we just don’t want her to run ragged.”
This more concrete and midfield-focused role has allowed Allessie to enjoy herself more on the field and do her job more efficiently.
She now has a more passing-oriented approach and can focus on creating good looks on goal for her teammates.
“It’s actually been really awesome because I'm able to focus on my role and do best for my team instead of having to do a little extra, less up and down kind of movement,” Allessie said. “I’m able to fit in and build those connections with my other midfielders.”
Her new role has certainly served her and Penn State well by the improved passing and the assist numbers that Allessie has been putting up.
Allessie’s skills as a passer being properly utilized has made her a more versatile player and is pushing Penn State to greater heights this season.
In addition to her impressive passing, Allessie is third on the Nittany Lions in goals with seven so far on the season, and she is also second on the team in points with 23 total.
The Nittany Lions are set to face off against Allessie’s former team, Ohio State, on Friday.
Last year, with Allessie on the Buckeyes, Penn State was 1-2 against Ohio State. This year, however, the Nittany Lions will hope to turn the tables.
The last time these two teams played each other, Allessie assisted the game-winning goal for Ohio State and put an end to Penn State’s season.
Now she will appear in Friday’s matchup wearing blue and white, seeking revenge with the Nittany Lions against her former teammates.
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